Borough President grants $3 million to JHMC for cancer treatment device, as the hospital gears up to open its new cancer center

(L to r) Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Dr. Rosa Nouvini, JHMC CEO Bruce Flanz and CMO Dr. Sabiha Raoof celebrate the grant for the cancer center
Photo by Athena Dawson

On Thursday, Feb. 29, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a press conference to announce a $3 million grant his office has provided for a state-of-the art cancer treatment device that will be part of a new cancer center that is opening at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in April.

The funds provided by Richards’ office will go toward a Linear Accelerator, which is used for radiation treatments on patient with cancer. The event also featured a tour of the soon-to-open cancer center, which will feature 24 dual use exam and infusion therapy rooms, built in partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering.

According to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sabiha Raoof, the Linear Accelerator will be a much-needed addition to JHMCs oncology care program. “As a cancer survivor I’ve gotten my treatment at MSK, I’ve seen what excellent cancer care they provide and to bring that to our patients is very, very personal to me,” she said. “With the Linear accelerator the radiation oncologists are able to precisely target the cancer cells with high energy X-rays,” she said.

Mayor Eric Adams’ office has also allocated $2 million toward the purchase of the Linear Accelerator.  However, the focus Thursday was on the borough president’s contribution and the center’s upcoming opening.

Medical officials said at the press conference that the Accelerator is very much needed in terms of cancer treatment and care.

Mock up for the new Linear Accelerator in JHMC’s cancer center. Photo by Athena Dawson

“The three components of care are medical oncology, the other is surgical oncology, and the other is radiation oncology, so the borough president was very gracious and very benevolent in giving us the money to acquire the radiation therapy,” said JHMC’s CEO, Bruce Flanz. “If you want to do what’s best in cancer we go to the best. We went to Memorial Sloan Kettering, and we are thrilled that they are bringing world class cancer services right here in Queens,” Flanz said.

In a brief speech to a crowd of doctors and medical officials, Richards highlighted the importance of continuing to build Queens’ health care network. “As we make our Queens health care system much stronger, as borough president, taking office at the height of the pandemic, I made it my mission to root out the disinvestment in this borough,” he said. “We are making sure every institution from here to the Rockaways is getting the resources that it needs.”

Richards also thanked Adams for the $2 million that is going toward the purchase, while touching on his personal relationship with cancer.

“It’s no accident that this is the second biggest healthcare allocation I’ve made since I’ve taken office. This hospital is once again personal to me and the fight against cancer is personal to me,” Richards said, referring to visits with his grandmother, who was a cancer patient at Sloan Kettering. “The bottom line is that you should not have to leave this borough to get the highest level of care.”

Dr. Rosa Nouvini, site director for the cancer program, described how the new center will be a one-stop-shop to treat and support cancer patients. “This is all still in progress, but we are going to bring supportive care which is also known as palliative care. There are doctors that will provide support to the patients to make sure their quality of life is as good as it can be during their treatment periods,” she said. “It’s a really critical piece to cancer care.”